Gettin' Screwed at the Falls

Published: September 13th 2016
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I remember speed walking, that’s how we started our day. We were wiggling our asses around the river & through the woods to the embassy we go! It was everything…took everything, to get out of bed before eight. We had to get to the embassy by nine to turn in my visa paperwork.

At 8:59 exactly, Jon and I were at the front door. Paperwork and a smile. A different employee came out and unlocked the door. He was dark skinned and freckled. The man looked so incredibly different from his co-workers, in that he wore a wide smile and looked generally enthused about life. I hope I get to talk to him.

There were a few other groups waiting along with us. Most of them Australian, they all couldn’t believe how much more money Americans had to pay. Eye roll. The happy employee had helped out every person before me in line, sending them off with a smile and a visa. They all might as well been skipping out of the Embassy. I was next.

And like a swift kick-in-the-ass by the Gods themselves -- the Debbie-Downer, the man I
spoke with the day previous, appeared and called my name. I approached slowly, handed him my paperwork and waited. Once again, there was I trying to read the non-existent hints on his frozen face.

Knowing full well we did not speak Spanish...clearly…the disgruntled employee preceded to speak in a speed so fast, it didn’t even sound like Spanish anymore. After the fourth, “Come again?” on our end, we had someone in the lobby come help translate, it was a stoner-looking kid from New Zealand. He had long hair and wore a tight red beany, which made his loose hair look more like a lion’s mane.

“You didn’t sign inside the box. Like, your signature has parts of it sticking out of the…you know…box.

“Okay…and? What does that mean?”

“It means you have to reprint the packet and sign it again.”

“WHAT?! You can’t be serious.” I took another deep breath, preparing to have Eeyore the Employee hear a piece of my mind. I was cut short when I felt Jon’s hand on my shoulder. In a much more serene voice, he asks the hazy-eyed Kiwi,

“Where can we go to reprint this?”

Eeyore directed us the nearest print shop, in perfect Spanish. So of course, we had to ask everyone in sight how to get there multiple times. We had just 15 minutes to complete this, or they wouldn’t have my visa ready that day. Like two kids completing a scavenger hunt, we scoured the town for any words or pictures of anything print or computer related. We found it, finally. All to find out that it is closed, randomly, at 9:15 on a Tuesday morning. We ask a few more people and find another place, print the packet and rush back to the embassy.

“No. No more.” Eeyore says to us, in perfect English. He walks back and closes the door behind him. Feeling the defeat, I sighed into Jon’s arms.

“We are never going to make it to Brazil.”

“If I get to spend the rest of my life with you in the jungle, I will be happy. We just need portable air conditioning.”

“Thanks babe…”

“Hello.” The dark man with freckles greeted us from behind. “What happened?”

“The other guy wouldn’t take my paperwork because it
is 9:34.”

“Let me see what I can do,” the man spoke with a soft and raspy voice. He took my paperwork and my passport (which I was reluctant to hand over overnight, but had no choice.) “Come back tomorrow and we shall see.”

“Doesn’t sound promising,” I said to Jon as we walked to the nearest bus stop.

“I’m not worried about it, love. Things will all work out. Now, how do we get to these falls here?”

Luckily, it was the main tourist attraction in town so finding the place wasn’t too hard. It was a 20-minute bus ride taken from the bus terminal. On the way to the falls, rain clouds began to form over us. Ponchos are a must, even if we did resemble two drunken trash bags. The place was packed with tourists, even with the rain clouds. It was a magnificently huge nature reserve with trolley trains that take the people up and around the mountains to the falls. In line, we sat next to a sign that read “Do Not Feed the Birds.” We had fun throwing bread from our sandwiches to the birds.

We took the longest train first to the top of the falls. It was a maze of metal walkways and bridges that lead to the ultimate destination of Iguazu Falls. It was an attraction you could hear way before you could see anything. I have never been near a waterfall that powerful and big and couldn’t believe how loud it was. With every walkway we passed the sound grew until we were face to face with the falls. I didn’t know where the frost white water stopped and the white overcast clouds began. It was beautiful.

We were advised against going on the boats that take you close to the actual fall. “Too expensive,” locals said, “not worth the money.” Jon and I spent the day hiking down the fall for free. By the end of it, we were so hot and sweaty we ripped off our clothes and stood directly underneath the falls in nothing but our skives. Freedom never felt so wet.

On the walk back to the bus, Jon and I were lucky enough to see a family of monkeys swinging from the trees to the top of a building. A group of Coatis animals came charging at us too, but more in a curious/cuddily way. One brave guy climbed up on top of Jon’s backpack trying to get inside. From what I gathered, coatis look like raccoons and act like cats. Adorable!

The decision to have a quiet night in that night was an easy one. We were exhausted from all the walking and rain dodging. Once we were back at the bungalow we took a stroll to the local market to get some dinner, ravioli that turned out awful thanks to me. Only I can make something that is both parts burnt and undercooked at the same time. Jon and I spent the evening smoking garbage weed and fantasizing about the summer camp/school for kids we would love to open one day.

We arrived at the embassy at 11:30, just to be safe. (They told us to arrive at noon.) When they call us up, I handed my paperwork to the evil embassy worker. In Portuguese, he told me that because under today’s date section I put month then date then year (you know, how we Americans do) NOT date then month then
year. For that reason, I had to redo the entire application.

Seriously?! What. The. Fuck. Let me into your god damn country.

So the mission was as follows: find a print shop, print documents, re-fill all the slots, find photographer, reprint pictures, paste picture in appropriate place on said document. Oh, and do this all not knowing the language. You got ten minutes, go!

Jon and I split up. He went to grab the pictures. I went to redo the app. The first place I ran to was the print shop we used the day previously. Closed…of course. I knocked on the glass door just in case. Nothing. I panicked. I ran around the streets like a mad woman, like I’ve done before. I was a pro at this point. I spotted a hotel across the street and ran inside. Hotel, I thought, they would speak English. I ran inside. The lobby was deserted. There was just one little round Brazilian man at the front desk. He was smiling when I entered, but his eyebrows quickly raised as his face grew puzzled, staring at me huffing & puffing in the foyer.

“Por favor, ingles?!” was all I could muster.

“Ugh…yea,” he answered.

“Thank God!” I screamed, “Please, your computer. Let me use it. I just need to print something.” The man begins to open up my email where I sent the documents. I told him the story, aiming to justify my frantic manner. Turns out he didn’t care so much. Anyway, moving on.

With paperwork in hand, I ran back to the embassy to find Jon standing there, no shirt (of course) and my photo for the embassy in hand.

In a perfect Welsh accent he asked, “Did we do it?” I held up the paperwork proudly, “We did it! …Wait, the glue! We have to paste the picture onto th—“ Jon took the paperwork in one hand, and with my picture in the other he licked the backside of it and stuck it onto the front. I went inside and handed it in to the jerk behind the desk. In perfect English, he instructs Jon and I to sit and wait, “One o’clock we will let you know.”

So here I am, waiting. Waiting: my
biggest enemy. I told Jon to go drink and swim at the hostel next door while I wait. No use ruining his good time with my impatience. The only thing keeping me going is Jon’s incessant can-do attitude. Easy for him though, being from the UK means he doesn’t pay jack-shit to cross country lines. Being American blows so hard right meow.


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